Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
This route was planned as a quick start onto the northern Carnedds, a new area for me. Starting from close to the coast and the A55, I wanted an alternative start from Rowen, which looked a bit of a difficult drive up the narrow road. So instead I started from Llanfarifechan. I’m glad I did this is a lovely village squeezed between the sea and mountains.
Parking near the top of the town, by the entrance to a lovely little wooded nature reserve up the Afon Ddu, the path followed a series of numbered posts. This turns out to be the Upland walk, linking lots of ancient stone age sites which cover the hillside. The posts took me past cairns, settlements and miscellaneous piles of stones up to the Bwlch, under rather a lot of large electricity pylons. This excess of metal-wear does spoil the remote area and fill the views from the valley. In a more enlightened age they would have been buried or surely diverted. A path up the hillside followed a wall and fence to Carnedd y Ddelw, the most northerly Carnedd, and then up the rounded slopes of Drum and onward over the very walkable slope to Foel Fras. This is the last of the Welsh 3,000’s on the S-N route, but still a fair way from the finish for those doing the 3,000’s route. Its been steadily uphill over the 7km from the car, not a bad gradient. By now the weather was starting to improve, the clouds were breaking up and some blue sky started to appear.
While having my usual ham butty and banana for lunch, I could hear the unmistakable sounds of a Sea King helicopter coming from the direction of Ogwen to the south. This is never a good sound as it usually means a rescue in progress. Afterwards.I found out was a well known climber and Alpinist who fell from the scramble down Pen Yr Helgi Du. Such a shame for a trip or stumble on this well worn route to end in a fatality. Around an hour later the chopper appeared over Carnedd Llywellyn on its way back to hospital.
But for me the day was going well, the weather improving and I was feeling fit, so decided to finish off my tour of the Carnedds by visting Foel Grach, which as far as my memory serves me would also be personal first ascent.
Up to the newly renamed Carnedd Gwenllian for a breather. Behind me a group of walkers mentioned having a go at finding the hut above us on Foel Grach. Good plan, but although just about 5 minutes after them, but couldn’t see a hut. For a bit of fun I kicked steps up the snow below the summit, and there was the roof of the hut sticking out of the slope! Snow had filled the building inside as well.
Now for the long walk back with the need to avoid the scree slopes around Aber Falls. The whole area now looked particularity pathless down the spurs above the falls, so I went for safety and headed out to the west. In the middle of the plains below Carnedd Gwellian there appeared two rock castles with their walls tumbling down. This was the Bera’s or Berau. Sounds and look like something from Lord of the Rings with the wild ponies across the plain and great views across the truly mountainous Yr Elen and Llywelyn. Although the tor could have been easily avoided, I scrambled up to the top, then followed the spur over Drosgl to pick up a path dropping down Afon Gam. The valley took me to the North Wales Path close to Aber Falls, complete with people, the first I had met since leaving Foel Grach.
The quiet side of the falls was without tourist, so I finished of the tea flask, ate the last Fudge finger and took some atmospheric photos.
Now the quickest way back to my car involved two more short climbs, the first involving some forest thrashing before I picked up the track through the forest above the falls. Then across the road-head from Abergwyngregyn, and through a couple of fields and woods to pick up the Terrace walk above Llanfairfechan to the car, as dusk crept in.
Route map can be seen at Social Hiking.